Board of Education adopts volunteer firefighter and ambulance worker tax exemption

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The Board of Education unanimously voted to adopt the provisions of §466-a of the Real Property Tax Law at its Feb. 16 meeting, which will now grant a partial exemption from taxation (10% of the assessed value of the eligible property) for school district purposes for residential property located within the school district owned by eligible local volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance workers.

The board’s adoption these provisions at its regular meeting followed a public hearing on the matter held earlier that evening.

There is a requirement of a minimum of two years of applicable volunteer service in the fire company, fire department or voluntary ambulance service located within the school district, and other statutory requirements.

“We know our volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers do heroic work to serve our community,” said Board of Education President Joseph Flaherty. “At times, that includes at their own personal risk, including the physical and emotional toll that serving takes. Expanding our property tax exemption is a very small way we can give back to and thank our volunteers who sacrifice their time, health and safety to provide an invaluable and selfless service to our community.”

Volunteer firefighters and ambulance corps workers who feel they are eligible for this exemption should contact their respective town assessor’s office to learn the process to apply, including whatever paperwork must be submitted. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, March 1.   

§466-a of the Real Property Tax Law is a new exemption of the Real Property Tax Law (RPTL), as enacted by Chapter 670 of the Laws of 2022. This new law gives municipalities, school districts and fire districts the option to provide a property tax exemption of up to 10% to volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers. Any such exemption would be valid only on property used exclusively for residential purposes.

In order to be eligible for this partial exemption, volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers must live in the community served by their volunteer organization and meet a minimum service requirement of between two and five years, as set by the respective taxing jurisdiction. Additionally, as a local option, a lifetime exemption may be provided to volunteers with at least 20 years of service as long as they  maintaining their primary residence in the county they have served. Taxing jurisdictions may also allow unremarried surviving spouses of eligible volunteers to retain the exemption.

This would be effective for assessment rolls prepared on the basis of the taxable status dates occurring on or after Jan. 1, 2023.